July 17, 2013

workshop 4: instincts

One of the biggest challenges in writing, for me, is learning to trust my instincts. Again and again I'll second-guess a storyline, reword a sentence, or swap out a word until doubt creeps in and I throw in the towel. It's a tough habit to break, but every once in a while, I make a point to free write for a few minutes and not edit a single thing. And on top of the no-editing rule, I also follow a first-instinct rule, forcing myself to write about the very first topic that comes to mind when I decide to put pen to paper.

For this workshop, just go for it. Think about something — anything — you may want to write about, and follow through on that subject. No matter how weird or random or difficult it may seem, there's a reason you have that initial impulse and at some point, you may just surprise yourself.

Prompt: Free write about the first thing that comes to mind, and don't edit a single word. Seriously! Go ahead and fix spelling or punctuation errors, but let the content stay the same. Write as much as little or you'd like, in whatever format you'd like, but don't let yourself look back. Trust your instincts.
I love PBJs. There are a lot of things I don't know about myself, a lot of things I have yet to explore and understand, but this I know for sure: I have a hell of a thing for PBJs.

A therapist, I'm sure, would love to tell me that it's because my mom used to pack PBJs in my lunch box along with a note — a lined Post-It with a quickly scribbled heart and some version of "I love you" or "XO my angel" or "Infinity Times Infinity." Or maybe the therapist would say that it's because in college, I ate a PBJ nearly every single day alongside my roommates, my best friends, with a giant Diet Coke in the other hand and a huge, bellowing laugh spilling out between bites. 

And really, the therapist would be right. I love PBJs for both of those reasons, and because when I was nine, we went to Florida for spring break and I had a toasted PBJ for the first time — such a glamorous luxury, I thought, such a grownup take on my favorite food, my favorite memories.

And that's just it. As lame and as strange and as silly as it sounds, PBJs have been at the heart of so many of my best memories — so many of my favorite, everyday-extraordinary moments. There were the spontaneous picnics with my parents, the late-night kitchen talks in high school, and more post-pool day PBJs in college than I could ever possibly count. Everyday extraordinary.

The bread may have gone from white to wheat, the butter may have gone from peanut to almond, and the fruit may have gone from grape jelly to strawberry jam, but no matter how "grownup" those PBJs have become, each one feels like a nod to yesterday — a nod to the me that's never changed.

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Darianne said... [Reply to comment]

I'm the same way, and I've realized that I should just go with what I start with, rather than second guessing my writing all the time. Lovely free write dear!